Young Event Horse Competitions

The USEA Spalding Labs Young Event Horse Series may be best described as an equine talent search. The Series gives owners and breeders the opportunity to showcase the potential of their four- and five-year-old horses while encouraging them to produce top-level event horses for the future.

Young Event Horse classes are designed toward education and preparation in a progressive manner. Youngsters are asked to complete four sections: Conformation and Type, Dressage, Jumping, and Suitability and Potential. The ultimate goal of the Young Event Horse Series is to choose the youngster that possesses the talent and mind set, and who with proper training, will excel in the uppermost levels of the eventing world.


Minimum height of horses: 15 hands.
Age: horses foaled in 2001 or 2002; minimum age of rider, 14 years.
Membership: Riders are not required to be USEA members, horses are not required to be USEA registered.
Saddlery: Only snaffle bridles may be used and boots and martingales are optional for jumping. No boots to be worn in Sections I or II.
Dress (relaxed): ASTM/SEI approved helmets mandatory for jumping.
Dressage phase: Collared shirt with sleeves, breeches, and boots.
Jumping phase: Dress as above or cross-country attire.
Section I Conformation and Type 15 %
Section II Dressage Test 35 %
Section III Jumping 40 %
Section IV Suitability and Potential 10 %

The classes offer four sections: Conformation and Type, Dressage, Jumping, and Suitability and Potential. While the judges look for horses with strong abilities in dressage and show jumping,
they also look for a horse with correct, elastic gaits, scope and athleticism over fences, and those that with the correct training will have the speed, soundness, and stamina necessary at the top levels of the sport.

Section I – Conformation and Type. Each horse is stripped of tack, lined up, and shown in hand (horses will be asked to jog). Each one is asked to step forward for the judge to assess conformation and type, and is judged on potential for soundness, speed, and stamina. Color should not be a factor in a horse’s score. Many colored horses have been successful at the highest levels of the sport.

Section II – Dressage. This is a modified dressage test judged on overall collective impressions
(not by each individual movement). The 2006 Dressage Test is available on
Click on the Young Event Horse Series logo to get to the link.

Section III – Jumping. The jumping phase involves a small course of natural looking show jumping fences, or a mixture of cross-country and natural show jumps. The fence height should range from 2’6″- 3″3″ for the four-year-olds, and 2’11”-3’7″ for the five-year-olds. Cross-country fences should reflect those that you would find on an easy Novice course and an easy Training course, respectively. The YEH Championships will require horses to negotiate a small water obstacle and a ditch.
An event horse must be able to jump a bank, ditch, water, or solid fence. All events must incorporate at least one of these obstacles in their jumping section. The obstacles should be straight forward, inviting, and age-appropriate for the youngsters.

Jumping Scenarios Specifications:
The height for the jumping course is 2’6″- 3’3″ for four-year-olds. 2’11”-3’7″ for five-year-olds.
First and foremost, the judge must be able to easily see all fences on the jumping course. An ideal set-up of the jumping section would be a relatively open space with several natural-looking show jumps interspersed between 2-4 cross-country fences, for a total of 6-8 fences.
If that scenario is not possible, an entire course of natural-looking show jumps, with at least one of the specified obstacles above, can be used. In both scenarios, there must be enough room for the horse to gallop away from the last fence for long enough that the judge can assess the quality of the gait.

Section IV – Suitability and Potential. Horses are required to show their gallop immediately following the last jump in Section III.

The aim of these classes is to encourage breeders and trainers to produce and present the correct type of young horse which is considered to be the best material to make a top international event horse.

The Judges should bear in mind they are looking for potential for the future. Unfortunately, all too often, the horse with the most potential may not be the one which is presented in the best manner. They are looking for an athletic, loose moving horse with a promising jumping technique who with correct training will develop physically and mentally into a strong four-star event mount.

His conformation and movement should enable him to withstand the demands of the sport in terms of soundness, speed and stamina. Lack of quality and other defects which may prevent him being fast enough should be penalized, even though he may make a nice dressage or show jumping horse. However, a lack of size or color of the horse should not be held against him.

Equally one should not allow a possible prejudice against mares to affect any judgment. It is essential to encourage riders to give mares more of a chance if we are to establish a better breeding policy using proven mares.
In the dressage phase, unlike a normal dressage test, we are not assessing the state of training and marks are not given for individual movements. The judge should stand on the long side of the arena, and may move positions so that he/she may have the best view. Three correct, elastic and regular gaits through a swinging back are the qualities that judges will be seeking. The horse should NOT be scored on obedience.

The judge will have to weigh the influence of the rider; a good rider may present a well balanced, smooth test from perhaps a moderate, unscopey horse while a novice rider may even hinder a good horse from showing its true worth. It is the horse’s, and not the rider’s, real potential we are looking for. Likewise in the jumping we are looking for a bold, athletic horse with good technique and a horse with these qualities should not necessarily be penalized for knocking down a fence providing he learns from his mistake. Four-year-olds may find it easier to jump out of the trot.

Careful thought must be given as to how the marks are used. In order to have enough of a gap between the lower and higher quality horses it is necessary to use the full range of marks. Similar to dressage judging, the first horse in sets the standard and therefore one must leave enough room to put better horses above and weaker horses below.
In conclusion we could sum up by asking the question “Which horse would I buy to make the best international eventer?” We are not buying the rider…. only the horse.

Each section will be scored on a 1-10 mark basis.
9-very good
7-fairly good
3-fairly bad
1-very bad
0-not executed

Each section is weighted in importance with Jumping 40 percent, Dressage 35 percent,
Conformation and Type 15 percent, and Suitability and Potential 10 percent.
In order to achieve these percentages, good marks for each section will be converted to a percentage using the following formula:
Conformation and Type marks will be multiplied by 1.5
Dressage total average score will be multiplied by 3.5
Jumping marks will be multiplied by 4.0
Suitability and Potential will be multiplied by 1.0
Horses must earn a score of 70 percent or higher at two or more Young Event Horse competitions to participate in the Young Event Horse Championships (Fall, 2006)

If you are the organizer of a USEA recognized event and are interested in hosting a Young Event Horse Series competition for 2006, please contact Wendy Weinstein at 703.779.0440 ext. 3006 or